Page 5187 - Week 14 - Wednesday, 18 November 2009

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government, with certainly the very strong support of the Greens, has embarked on such a historic investment in cycling.

Schools—removal of children

MR DOSZPOT: My question is to the Minister for Education and Training and it relates to the report in today’s Canberra Times regarding the two children that were unlawfully taken from school. According to the report, the person who took these children was not their legal guardian, and the children have been missing for two days. Minister, can you explain how two children were taken unlawfully from a sitting classroom during a school day in an ACT public school?

MR BARR: In responding to that question, I think it is first appropriate to express the concern of all members in the Assembly for the safe return of those two children. I am aware that the particular question that the member asks me is, in fact, currently the subject of a police investigation, so it is certainly not appropriate to be discussing it in this chamber at this time. The only comment I will make is that, clearly, this is a very distressing matter and very distressing for the family concerned. I would hope that all of our thoughts would be with those children and for their safe return.

MR SPEAKER: Mr Doszpot, a supplementary question?

MR DOSZPOT: Minister, when were you first informed of this incident and what steps have you taken to prevent this from occurring to other children at risk?

MR BARR: The department of education has an established process for advising me of critical incidents within—

Mr Stanhope interjecting—

MR SPEAKER: Mr Stanhope!

MR BARR: They have a well-established—

Mr Stanhope interjecting—

MR SPEAKER: Mr Stanhope, you are interrupting your own colleague.

MR BARR: Thank you, Mr Speaker. The department has a well-established protocol for advising me of critical incidents. It is done verbally immediately and in writing within 24 hours. That certainly occurred in relation to this case. But as I have indicated, I believe it is highly inappropriate—in fact I am surprised that it has been raised in this manner today, in a question without notice in this chamber. We might all want to reflect on the motivation behind that.

MR SPEAKER: A supplementary question, Mrs Dunne?

MRS DUNNE: Minister, what procedures are in place to ensure that children are not taken by persons who are not authorised to do so from ACT government schools?

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